Politics or Pragmatism? The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Burying of the Investigation into the Assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana

Human Rights Quarterly (Forthcoming)

22 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017

Date Written: February 7, 2017

Abstract

A persistent rumor about the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is that ‘politics’ played a role in the decision in 1997 of then Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour to end the investigation into the assassination of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana. The article examines whether there is any truth to this rumor and, alternatively, whether more mundane reasons may explain the burying of the investigation. On the basis of interviews and email correspondence with the persons who might have pressured Arbour and with the former Chief-Prosecutor herself, the article concludes that there is no evidence that the US Government or the UN Secretariat intervened. Arbour’s decision seems to have been based on an assessment of the concrete conditions at the time. These were such that any responsible Prosecutor would have concluded that pursuing the investigation would be futile and dangerous. Because the truth about the assassination remains unknown, the article ends by suggesting a way to finish the ICTR’s unfinished business.

Keywords: ICTR, Assassination Habyarimana, Investigation, RPF, Louise Arbour, Michael Hourigan

Suggested Citation

Reydams, Luc, Politics or Pragmatism? The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Burying of the Investigation into the Assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana (February 7, 2017). Human Rights Quarterly (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928946

Luc Reydams (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame ( email )

217 OSHAG
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

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